The following article outlines how we market short courses.
Course prioritisation week by week
Every week, we do a Course Prioritisation in which we select the four courses that will be prioritised during the following week. The criteria to select these courses is based on:
- The topic of the course is related to one of our Strategic Portfolio Areas - Business, Digital, Health and Teaching.
- Potential revenue to be generated based on algorithms and existing data from Periscope and Google Analytics. For example, we use historic revenue for reruns, as well as for the Top Revenue Generating Courses.
- High number of enrolments
- Popularity and seasonality of the topic of the course based on extensive research.
- The course is a degree taster courses
- The course is a commissioned course
The promotion of the prioritised courses includes:
First runs and reruns that are included in the course prioritisation list are featured on the Popular Courses banner on the FutureLearn homepage, as well as listed as top online courses on the homepage.
We use small sections of the course content to engage our audiences across our social media channels i.e. a question from the quiz, tips and advice from an article/video.
Custom assets and templates are used to bring more attention to the course. For example, course header and images can be automatically pulled through, but may not be suitable for the channel we are sharing content on. That is one of the reasons why we encourage partners to use attractive headers and images.
First runs and reruns that are included in the course prioritisation list are featured on our weekly newsletters.
Promotion of new courses
When a new course is created, FutureLearn does the following to promote the course:
Keyword Research: We conduct keyword research in relation to the course topic. This informs the copywriting, naming, and optimisation of the course page that will contribute to good rankings allowing the potential learner to find the course directly in the search results, click on the page, and then enrol.
Metadata and H1s: We ensure that each course page is properly optimised with the relevant metadata, H1s, and URLs. SEO metadata is what appears on the search engine result pages when a website comes up for certain queries. The metadata includes the title of the page and the descriptive text below the title. The H1 is the header that serves as the main title for the page content
Links: We create and add internal links to the course page on relevant internal pages, to make the course more discoverable on the FutureLearn website and to boost the page’s SEO.
We request that our partners create links back to each individual course from their own websites to create an online relationship between the partner and the course. This also improves the rankings for the specific course page. Our standard approach is to request a link from the partner's main domain and another link from the partner's blog/news section.
Course Page Review: An internal copywriter writes each a unique description page for each course, optimising the copy with keywords for high-ranking search terms and ensuring it effectively sells the course to the target audience. The content of the description is based on the proposal sent by the partner when creating the course.
Newsletter: We send two types of newsletters promoting short courses:
General Newsletters: Are used to promote short courses from different topics. They are sent every Monday to active learners (a learner that has completed at least one step in the learner journey in the last 12 months)
Targeted Newsletters: Are used to promote courses based on specific categories or topics. They are sent every Thursday to learners that have previously done courses in that category and or/topic.
Every week, the General Newsletter features 3 first runs. These are selected using an algorithm based on predicted enrolments and revenue.
New Courses Banner: The first run of every course is always added to the New Courses Collection Page and the course is on there for 4 weeks in total.
All the weekly newsletters featured a banner that is linked to the New Courses Collection Page.
We encourage partners to lead on the development and distribution of press materials if they wish to announce a new course, but we ask that the FutureLearn Comms team is notified of any press activity in good time, with any press material shared a minimum of 5 working days in advance.
Depending on newsworthiness, the FutureLearn Comms Team may be able to support press activity, primarily by reviewing press material, supplying a quote, and/or distributing to our education trade press contacts. We may also be able to add press releases to our press page.
First runs which we consider will be successful due to the popularity and/or seasonality of the topic, relation to our main Portfolio Strategic areas, or the number of enrolments, are included in the Course Prioritisation.
Promotion of reruns
When we have a rerun of a course, FutureLearn does the following to promote the course:
We apply technical SEO to avoid duplicate content with initial runs. We also ensure that links and mentions of the first run still benefit the SEO of subsequent runs.
Every week, the General Newsletter features 3 reruns. These are selected using an algorithm based on predicted enrolments and revenue, as we all past performance review.
Reruns which first run was very popular are included in the Course Prioritisation.
Promotion of top revenue generating courses
These are courses that have generated the most revenue over the last two financial years.
This is the additional promotion we do for these courses:
SEO and Copy
We prioritise the inclusion of the Top Revenue Generating courses in content such as the articles in the Career Advice page, to build further internal links and provide additional pathways to find the course.
Throughout the year, the To Revenue Generating courses will be periodically posted across our main social media channels.
Every week, the General Newsletter features 3 of the Top Revenue Generating courses. These are selected using an algorithm based on predicted enrolments and revenue.
When the Top Revenue Generating courses are open, they are included in the Course Prioritisation.
Promotion of commissioned courses
We promote all commissioned courses through our Popular Course banner on the FutureLearn homepage.
Commissioned courses have multiple posts going out over a period of approximately 1 month.
Depending on newsworthiness, the FutureLearn PR and Comms Team may be able to support with press activity around commissioned courses.
Commissioned courses that are included in the Course prioritisation list, will be promoted in the newsletters on that week.
Additional marketing activities
We promote courses, subjects, and topics through our planned link building activities.
Awards/ Events: We promote courses following awards or notable events. Partners can let us know when a course has won an award or has been part of a notable event, and if possible, send us collateral (pictures/social media hashtags/videos) so we can promote this on our social media channels and through our PR team. If you are interested in promoting an award of an event, please contact your partnership manager.
Open steps: We select courses with engaging open steps and use the course content to engage the learners. We do this by creating discussion topics or leading the audience to particularly interesting content in a course using our social media channels.
#FLasks: We also do the #FLasks which are live discussions on Facebook about topics surrounding a course. They are usually done for courses with engaging topics, and when educators are available. If you would like to explore this option for your course, please contact your partnership manager.
Testimonials: When authorised by learners and partners, we use testimonial quotes from learners to include in social media posts on our main channels. If you have a testimonial that would like us to share, please contact your partnership manager.
We create and post blogs with new courses we predict will be popular based on the topic of the course. Once the blogs are created, we share the content on our social media channels.
We are continually analysing course performance and adjusting targeted marketing activities accordingly. We do this using data on Google Analytics as well as on Periscope.
FutureLearn works with Rakuten Linkshare (our largest affiliate marketing channel) to help build relationships with publishers and generate sales from their end users.
We do this by providing topic related assets or text links which publishers can then use to promote our courses through their various digital channels (such as websites, social and paid search).
Publishers also have the option to use deep links (a direct URL) to bring their end users to a specific course.